Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm Giving the Star System a Thumbs Down

Netflix has adopted a new review system, or rather an old-school, Siskel & Ebert inspired system, where they ditched the "one to five stars" option in favor of “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”

Why? Netflix said that over time, they realized the average number of stars that something received didn't correlate to people's viewing habits. For example, documentaries get a lot of five star ratings and silly comedies usually receive three stars, but the comedies are way more popular in terms of what people actually watch. So really, a simple "thumbs up" or thumbs down" is a more effective way for viewers to express if something is worth their time to watch.

I wish Amazon would switch to "thumbs up" or "thumbs down," because personal taste, by its very nature, is subjective. Most people rate things on whether or not it appeals to them, rather than objectively assessing its quality. For that reason, I hate the five star rating system.

I can get bad reviews because my book was too short, or there wasn't enough romance, or someone didn't like the main character. Maybe these are all legitimate reasons not to like one of my books, but a bad review can cause serious repercussions. If your book has an average review rating that's below four stars, you can’t advertise on any of the premium sites and readers will automatically dismiss it. It’s so hard to get reviews in the first place, let alone lots of five stars reviews, but that’s the thing that can make or break the success of a novel. A simple "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" would make life a lot easier.

I don’t think the reviewers (who aren’t authors themselves) realize their power. Why would they? And of course I appreciate anyone who has given my books a chance, and has taken the time to review it. But can I now just say my biggest pet peeve? It’s when a reviewer says in their review “3.5 Stars” but because they can only use whole numbers of stars, they round down. Ugh!

But on the other hand, I can understand their indecision.

I have been going to physical therapy lately, because I broke my elbow and now I have weeks and weeks and weeks of seemingly endless recovery where I have to try and bend my arm when it wants to stay frozen. And at every appointment, my therapist asks, “What’s your pain level?”

It’s so hard to answer. Do I try to sound brave? I don’t want to downplay it. But a four for me might be a six, or a two, for somebody else. I always think too hard, and usually wind up answering, “3.5.”

It’s so ridiculous. I should just commit to a three, or a four, or give in to being a wimp and say it’s a five. Or even better, I should just be able to give my elbow a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This feeling must be pretty common. Netflix said they got 200% more reviews once they took the pressure off viewers to pick a star value and let people do "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."

Trust me, it's the way go.


  1. According to my opinion its a good way to rank the programs and must be helping Netflix greatly. By the way, I wish you a speedy recovery and try to stay calm and wait for recovery to complete.

  2. I think it is okay to create this type of ranking system which lets you choose the product or service. The essay writing service should also be given such kind of ratings to let people know which is best.