Rating the rating system and why I’m avoiding numbers.

Photo by Markus Krisetya on Unsplash

It started with a conversation about a collection of systems.

The question at hand was why it was decided that we would rate things out of five, out of ten, out of one hundred and the amount of leeway each gives us, the rater,

Five is claustrophobic. Only the staunch use the five-star system. It allows for no wiggle room. One is terrible, two isn’t much better and then suddenly we’re at a pass with three. There is a massive jump in quality there. A four is something easily recommendable and a five is flawless. Look at Goodreads to see just how flawed the system of five is. If you know, you know.

Ten allows us more space to breathe.
A one is truly horrific, and two and three seem redundant.
Four is perfectly mediocre and a five is middle of the road, something which the five-star system can’t afford us and the reason that a three is infuriatingly vague.
Six is something you probably enjoyed alone but the thought of recommending it to someone gives you anxiety. A seven however is something you’d gladly tell a friend to watch, but maybe not a stranger.
An eight is solid, and a nine is so good that it should probably just be a ten.
But ten is ride or die. Ten is something you get nostalgic about and, given the platform, will gladly get obnoxious about and make someone feel slightly uncomfortable or energised with your intensity. Tens probably aren’t even tens if you’re being honest with yourself and it was more to do with the people you were or weren’t with, and the fact you had a particularly great day that day and the timing was just right and it’s so wrapped up in esoteric outside influence that all your recommending comes with the caveat “it might just really be my thing though”.

The hundreds system is for cowards and teachers.

I know that using qualitative sentences rather than quantitative measures is hardly a revolutionary thought, modern reviewers are attempting to forego the number based systems entirely and it makes my heart sing. Then there are other review publications that have doubled down and are even re-reviewing and altering the numbers which in my head renders the entire system redundant, all with a straight face too… I’m looking at you Pitchfork.

A couple of years ago I started a content journal, too many times people ask me what I’m watching and my brain decides that it doesn’t remember something it digested twelve hours earlier, so I started a list. It’s divided into TV, movies, books, comics, video games although I’m thinking of adding albums and restaurants/cafes next year. And instead of a numerical value I’ve adopted a different system, if I enjoyed something it gets a French fries emoji, if I was ‘meh’ on it it gets a shrugging emoji and if I didn’t enjoy it at all it gets a facepalm and next to these I put an emoji of something that will remind me of the vibe. For example; I really enjoyed the movie Dune a few weeks ago, so it gets a French fries and next to that a worm… because giant space worms. And if someone asks me what I watched I can see I enjoyed Dune and it’s then up to me to tell them why I personally enjoyed it, like a normal person. Because if we start doing things like that then it shows just how wildly bonkers the numbering system is. I mean think about it, you watch something and sort of enjoy it and then SIX THIS IS A SIX… that’s a crazy thought to have, there are so many things that go into your own enjoyment that won’t go into the person’s next to you. That person had a really great day, is really into their popcorn and is crushing on the person next to them and just managed to score a handhold… in their head they’re screaming TEN and that movie is getting a French fries for sure.

I know the French fries system won’t work for everyone, you may not like French fries as much as I do. But I highly encourage you to find an emoji of something you love and start using that instead of numbers every time you love something. And write it down. And then send it to me, ’cause maybe I’ll like it too. Just sayin’.




Writer/Barista from Melbourne, Australia. Writing about pop culture and general geekery through an anxious lens while attempting personal development.

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Jonty Thompson

Jonty Thompson

Writer/Barista from Melbourne, Australia. Writing about pop culture and general geekery through an anxious lens while attempting personal development.

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